International Day of Actions for Rivers: Stopping subsidies for small hydropower plants is crucial for saving the last untouched European Rivers

23.3.2020 - PRAGUE / BANJA LUKA
PHOTO: Coalition for Protection of the Rivers in Bosnia and Herzegovina (www.rijekebih.org)

On March 14th, the International Day of Actions for Rivers, the Coalition for Protection of the Rivers in Bosnia and Herzegovina calls on the appropriate authorities to immediately suspend public incentives for the production of energy from small hydropower plants as stated in the Declaration on the Protection of the Western Balkans Rivers.

The Declaration was adopted at the Legal and practical tools for protecting the rivers of the Western Balkans and their people conference which was held in November of 2019 in Sarajevo. The event was organized by Arnika (Czech Republic), Center for Environment (BiH), and WWF Adria and with financial support from the European Union, the Transition Promotion Program of the Czech Republic, the Global Greengrants Fund, and the Heinrich-Böll Stiftung Foundation.

READ FULL TEXT OF THE DECLARATION HERE


“The environmental damage caused by small hydropower plants is paid by electricity consumers through a renewable energy charge on their electricity bills. It is water that is being exploited in our country while the great potentials of sun and wind are completely untouched. The entity government of the Republic of Srpska [1] even abolished wind power incentives in March of last year, clearly favouring small hydro power plant projects,” said Milos Orlic, Coordinator of the Coalition for Protection of the Rivers of BiH.

The average monthly consumption of electricity by households in Bosnia and Herzegovina is approximately 350 kWh, thus the renewable energy charge averages 1,5 EUR/month or 18 EUR/year. For comparison, the Czech Republic holds one of the highest renewable energy charges in the EU and it is almost twice as high as the Bosnian-Herzegovinian. However, the average wage is four times higher in Czechia compared to the Balkan state.

“The transparency of the incentive system for renewable energy sources is very controversial. If citizens spend money, then they also have to ask if and in which energy sources they want to invest their money. This is not the case in Bosnia and Herzegovina though experts believe that investments in renewable energy sources are very profitable even without public incentives which was emphasized at the First Energy Summit – SET 2020 held recently in Trebinje to discuss the energy future of the Western Balkans," described Orlic.

Zuzana Vachunova from the Czech environmental organization, Arnika, emphasizes that all countries in the region face similar problems. “These are insufficient implementation of environmental legislation for water management, ecologically acceptable flow, and the non-transparent financial support for hydropower which is disproportionately high compared to wind and solar. Therefore, a moratorium on the construction of all new small hydropower plants is necessary," she claims.

Every year the members of the Coalition for Protection of Rivers of Bosnia and Herzegovina organize public events to the International Day of Actions for Rivers. This year these actions were postponed in order to protect the public from potential exposure to the COVID-19. You can follow the Coalition's activities on the Facebook page and the Coalition for the Protection of the Rivers website.

[1] The country of Bosnia and Herzegovina is formed of a Serbian entity (Republika Srpska) and a Bosniak-Croat entity (Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina). The central government ties both together in a fragile state.


In other languages:
Mezinárodní den akcí pro řeky: Jen zastavení dotací pro malé vodní elektrárny může zachránit poslední nedotčené evropské řeky (in Czech)
Svjetski dan akcije za rijeke: Ukidanjem podsticaja za male hidroelektrane spasićemo rijeke! (in languages of BiH)


Read more:
Declaration for the Protection of Western Balkans Rivers demands the moratorium on construction of HPPs | 17.12.2019
Western Balkans will seek effective protection of its unique and wild rivers in Sarajevo | 19.11.2019
River Keepers require minimal flow regulations | 27.09.2019
Minimum river flow – (how) is it defined and regulated by law across Europe? | 16.09.2019
Take photos, help the rivers. People capture the lack of water in Bosnia and Herzegovina | 16.08.2019
Over a 100 people gathered by the Sana springs to appeal for the protection of the area | 14.06.2019
Let's protect the rivers and those who fight for them! | 14.3.2019

 

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